The MSU gymnastics team hopes to keep their momentum as they take on No. 19 Ohio State at 5 p.m. Saturday in the third-annual Autism Awareness Meet at Jenison Field House.
The Spartans are coming off a second-place finish and a season high score of 194.850 last weekend against Iowa and University of Illinois- Chicago.
“We had a good weekend against Iowa, so I think that brought a lot of confidence to our team,” head coach Kathie Klages said. “That’s what we’ve been doing all week is trying to build on that confidence and getting them to understand that a 194.85 is a great score, but we can still do so much better.”
The Buckeyes scored 196.25 points in a close loss to No. 3 Michigan last weekend.
Klages said even though Ohio State is a good team, that isn’t what the team is focusing on.
“That’s a big score,” she said. “It’ll be difficult, but we won’t focus on Ohio State, we focus on our team and what we need to do to improve. They could just tell the team was going about their workout with a little bit more swagger and a little bit (more) confidence.”
MSU ranks 45th in the nation with an average score of 193.130 per meet, and their 48.655 on vault is good enough for 37th in the country.
The special promotion of autism awareness and the meet being televised live on the Big Ten Network, or BTN, will make the environment more electric, Klages said.
“It’s so nice to be able to focus on a cause and draw attention to (autism),” she said. “I do think (BTN) adds to the excitement, but there’s also some nerves because you know you’re being televised. It will be a special night.”
Ohio State has a pair of gymnasts to watch.
Against U-M, Ohio State’s Sarah Miller won the balance beam with a score of 9.875 and finished third on vault with 9.850, and Alyssa Marohn scored a 9.900 on bars and finished third in the all-around competition.
Last weekend, sophomore Alina Cartwright tied for first on vault and finished second on balance beam. She said she’s not focusing on the high scores Ohio State puts up and is looking to open some eyes.
“I don’t think of us needing to meet it, I think of us giving them a run for their money,” Cartwright said. “We can come close to their score and surprise them.”
Freshmen Lisa Burt has had a good run in the past few meets after tying for second in the all-around at Iowa, and she posted high scores on bars and vault against Minnesota two weeks ago.
She said the added excitement of being on BTN is a factor, but the team isn’t focusing on it.
“It adds pressure because anybody can watch it on TV,” Burt said. “I don’t think we focus on that, I think we focus on what we know we can do.”
MSU is 1-1 in their last two meets against Ohio State, winning 194.575-191.425 in 2010 and falling 195.200-192.675 in 2011.
Klages said she believes this will be the meet where things start to turn around for the Spartans and the team starts coming together.
“We do expect them to build on that confidence they had and get a little more secure in their performances,” Klages said. “Which means they really improve on some things like landings on vaulting, handstands on bar, dismounts of beam and bar. Being in the comfort of your own home will make it easier to accomplish those goals.”